Monday, October 25, 2010

Stretching Myself

Part of my new California life is improving my health and fitness. I'm doing big rides with the local cycling club (ass-kicking!) and I've joined the local Bikram Yoga Studio. I have always loved yoga, but have never made it a steady practice. Bikram is also known as hot yoga, or hot Hatha yoga. It's a very specific series of 26 postures performed over 90 minutes in a 105 degree room. This type of yoga was designed and perfected by Bikram Choudhury in the 70's. His requirements for it's performance, teaching, and environment are extremely specific.

This chart above is the series---all of which are surprisingly strenuous! This is a body and mind opening practice, but I wouldn't call it meditative, per se. More than anything, it requires great concentration and stamina.

Honestly? It's the one thing that is helping me keep my chin up during my frustrating, demoralizing job search...

I'm finding the classes at my studio that are the least populated----just easier for me to concentrate, introvert and agoraphobic that I am, haha! One brings a yoga mat, towel and water and wears as little as possible, because you sweat profusely during the 90 minute session and you need full stretching capability---no fabric constraints. Getting dizzy and/or nauseus is par for the course. When this happens, you sit on your mat for as long as it takes for you to regain your equilibrium, then you join in again. Some days it happens a lot, some days, not at all.
The poses are the same every session, but the body's ability to do them and reaction to them are different. It's fascinating to me that within these specific, set parameters, there can be so much variation. It also helps that the studio I go to has a big pool of teachers---so far, I've had a new teacher every session. Every one imparts some new jewel of information.

Regardless of my unusually high natural flexibility, there are poses I can't quite do yet, like this one, called Padangustasana. You wouldn't believe the balance this takes! Immense concentration. To see a great layout of all the poses, check out this page. Bikram yoga and job searching.

One of these feels positive, constructive, and enriching....and the other does not.

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